I propose to take Questions Nos. 15, 20 and 51 together.
At the outset I wish to acknowledge the valuable service that CE supervisors provide in running CE schemes delivering local based community services while providing training and development opportunities to the long-term unemployed and to those often furthest removed from the labour market.As the Deputy will be aware, although the State is not the employer in this instance, Community Employment (CE) supervisors have been seeking for several years, through their union representatives, the allocation of Exchequer funding to enable CE sponsors, who are their employers, contribute to the funding pension arrangements.This issue was examined by a Community Sector High Level Forum, chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. A number of Departments, including my own Department, were represented on this group, as were the unions and Pobal. As part of this process a detailed scoping exercise was carried out on the potential costs of providing Exchequer support for the establishment of such a pension scheme for employees across the Community and Voluntary sector in Ireland. This exercise estimated a potential cost to the State of between €188 million and €347 million per annum depending on the numbers involved. This excluded any provision for an immediate ex-gratia lump sum payment of pension as sought by CE supervisors, which could entail a further Exchequer cost of up to €318 million. Nevertheless I, and my colleague the Minster for Public Expenditure and Reform are keen to find an approach that will resolve this issue.Accordingly, officials from my Department have held a series of meetings with CE supervisor representatives to consider options, mindful of the wider context and of the costs that may be involved.The current position is that officials from my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the unions representing the CE Supervisors continue to engage in discussions and I am hopeful that, with goodwill and flexibility on all sides, a resolution can be found in the near future.